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Author Topic: Dark birds  (Read 2222 times)
dlashier
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« on: September 27, 2004, 11:14:04 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']First of all, congrats to Michael on getting a cormorant picture. We've got them here on the Oregon coast and they're one of the hardest birds to photograph not only because they're dark but because the tend to stay at distance only coming to land on remote rocks or steep cliffs. Not easy to get close to!

But a key factor here (aside from the obvious one of exposure) is to shoot raw and use a converter that gives you good shadow detail. Here's an example of a dark bird (crow, that unlike the cormorant is very approachable) processed with default settings by various converters.
http://www.lashier.com/home.cfm?dir_cat=20417
Note that this was done with C1's "film standard" tonal curve and "extra shadow" would have brought out even more detail.

- DL[/font]
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dlashier
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« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2004, 11:59:59 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']> more luck with Ravens

You know now that you mention it for all I know my shot is a raven also. All I know is that they're very friendly and you can get within a few feet of them. They seem to enjoy posing.

> The idea I guess with shooting RAW is to get a bit more range so that some of the detail in the dark birds shows up

Yes, the idea is not to be subjected to the in-camera jpeg tonal curve which usually compresses shadows more than you'd like with a dark subject. C1 just happens to default to extracting reasonable shadows, but using other converters you should be able to tweak to get the same or similar result.

> when you shoot raw on dark bird such as the crow, do you open up an extra stop?

It depends on the background. If sky/clouds are involved, usually not as I don't want to sacrifice them, but if the bg is more midtone perhaps yes. I expose using a the spot meter on my 1D and my general rule for dark or light subjects is to keep within 2 stops of center, so if I spot a dark bird I would expose to keep the bird no darker than -2, or a white bird (speaking of seagulls) at no more than +2. This pretty much guarantees that you maintain reasonable detail.

- DL[/font]
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paullantz
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« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2004, 05:23:54 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']I liked the picture of the Cormorants that Michael Reichmann posted from Muskoka, most of what I have heard about them recently is the perceived need to shoot them along Lake Ontario.
It made me think about a particular interest of mine, pictures of dark coloured birds, mainly Ravens which are not only dark but basically monochromatic.
The cormorant picture is very pleasing and yet the birds lack much in the way of detail due to their dark colour (beyond their heads and the rough shapes of their wings). That's mainly why I was glad to see it, I have got a pile of dark bird pictures that are mostly just dark shapes against the sky:-) Glad to see a bird picture that does not show every feather.
I find that when I take pictures of dark birds I have a choice of a black silhouette against a light coloured background or a blown out background.
People have suggested giving the bird a couple of extra stops. I open up the lens but also try to be selective with backgrounds and other objects in the pictures.
I find that when I use my 10D that focus speed with moving birds is not fast enough so I am thinking of getting another camera that could both focus and shoot faster. The 20D is attractively priced but not sure if it would be enough of a difference. Most of my pictures are taken with the 100-400 IS lens which is 5.6 at 400mm so a fancier lens is another thing to think about.[/font]
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paullantz
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« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2004, 11:30:34 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Thanks for sharing the crow shot,Don. I think I like the C1 image the best, the feet really do come out better but the overall look is best.
I have had no luck with crows (very skittish), somewhat more luck with Ravens (not really trusting but a little more tolerant).
The idea I guess with shooting RAW is to get a bit more range so that some of the detail in the dark birds shows up.
Wondering, when you shoot raw on dark bird such as the crow, do you open up an extra stop?
Sometimes think seagulls are the ideal birds since they are big, not shy and come with a nice pattern that seems to be easy for camera to focus on.

Raven on roof[/font]
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